Dhoni: Step up young guns!

2012-08-22 16:13
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (File)
Hyderabad - India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni called on Wednesday for his younger players to fill the batting void left by the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

"One of the ways to look at it is to look ahead for the future," Dhoni said before the two-Test series against New Zealand which starts on Thursday. "These two are great players and we will miss them. But at the same time it's an opportunity for youngsters to take up the responsibility in the longest format and we hope they will grab these opportunities."

Dravid announced his retirement in March while Laxman decided to quit ahead of the New Zealand series despite being named in the squad.

Dravid scored 13 288 runs in 164 Tests and Laxman 8 781 in 134. The two were the basis of India's batting for over a decade but quit international cricket after criticism of India's eight straight losses in away tests in England and Australia last season.

Dhoni said the Test format gave younger batsmen like Cheteshwar Pujara and Suresh Raina a chance to settle in.

"We've not played a Test in the last six to seven months. So it's important to get into the groove, give a bit more respect to the bowlers," Dhoni said. "This is one format where you can afford to do that. We've had a disappointing eight last Tests abroad, but if you look at the positive side, there is only one way and that's going up."

However, the Indian skipper felt slip catching could pose problems in the absence of Dravid and Laxman, both excellent in that position.

"We've got Virat (Kohli), Raina and we already have (Virender) Sehwag there. But fielding to spinners can be a bit of an issue because it will be challenging when there is some bounce for them. We may miss Rahul over there, but let's just look ahead and give youngsters a chance," Dhoni said.

Dhoni conceded that the first Test in Hyderabad could be back to relying on spin to do the trick on slow tracks.

"We're hoping that this particular wicket (in Hyderabad) will have something in it for spinners ... Overall it feels like the spinners will get some bounce and turn as the game progresses," Dhoni said.

With Harbhajan Singh out of favour, the Indian spin attack is led by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla are the other slow options.

New Zealand captain Ross Taylor said pace bowlers could also have a fair chance in overcast conditions at Hyderabad.

"It might swing around a bit in the first hour," Taylor said Wednesday. "The ball has swung during our practice sessions, so we hope to put the batsmen under pressure. But we won't play four seamers. We will play at least one spinner."

Taylor said the team was hoping to improve after a disappointing tour of the West Indies where it lost a two-Test series 2-0 and a five-match one-day series 4-1.

"We are playing out of our comfort zone but we know we have to play and perform a lot better than we did in the West Indies," Taylor said.

Taylor added that the team would miss the experience of injured left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori but that it gave a chance to off-spinner Jeetan Patel and young leg-spinner Tarun Nethula.

Read more on:    mahendra singh dhoni  |  cricket

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